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On the surface the Richard Mille RM 11-03 and the Maurice Lacroix MP6098-SS001-39E don’t have any reason to appear next to each other, apart from in a magazine’s hot and not chart. The Richard Mille has been on sale since 2007 and is still being manufactured. It’s made with unicorn blood, and unobtanium. It’s worn by sporting super stars, A-list celebs (who ever they are these days) and billionaires, and is delivered by hand from The Queen. And at a quarter of a million pounds, all of that better be true! Since its inception just over 20 years ago, Richard Mille have successfully created a mystique around their brand. Rolex turned up to 11. Then doubled. You’re not just buying a watch, you’re buying a status symbol. The status symbol. With the watch comes invitations to exclusive events, parties, and a sense of satisfaction that you are one of the chosen ones.

Then we have Maurice Lacroix. Made from 2000-2011, and now sold used at 25% of its original price tag, the watch hasn’t blown anyone’s socks off. It’s a decent enough looking watch and has some nice features. It’s a Swiss Made automatic, with a display case back, and sapphire crystal front and back. If I saw a person wearing one I would compliment them, and be interested to discuss it. And at £2,500 it’s not cheap. To most people outside the watch obsession, that is a vast amount to pay for a watch. It’s only because it’s up against the watch the was worn by Moses when he parted the Red Sea that it falls down and gets a complete spanking here.

Or does it?

What happens when we take away that magic of smoke and mirrors that has been painstakingly built up around the Richard Mille brand, and look at the watches as watches?

If we look a little deeper at these two watches, they might be more alike than first meets the eye. Let’s start with their full names to see if there is any family connection:

Richard Mille RM11-03 Automatic Winding Flyback Chronograph
Maurice Lacroix MP6098-SS001-39E Masterpiece Flyback Automatic Chronograph.

So. They both have automatic chronographs with a flyback complication. Look even further and we see that they both have their chronograph sub dials at 3, 6, and 9, offering the same information. Keep looking and there is the grand date at 12 o’clock, and the month at 4:30. If you haven’t guessed it yet, and I’m sure you have: these are nearly the same movements. The module by Dubois-Dépraz, a trusted name in the watch industry, brought the additional functions of flyback chronograph and annual calendar to a standard 3 hand automatic movement. The standard movement of RM being a Vaucher, the ML being an ETA.

So, two watches both alike in dignity… One is probably the best value watch available on the market, with a 49 jewel movement, and complications coming out of its ears. A true horology lovers watch.

The other, a clever, pretty marketing trick.

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